Neither life nor business is smooth sailing; sometimes it can feel like you’re getting more than your fair share of adversity. Katie DePaola, founder and author of Inner Glow Circle, is no stranger to this. Despite Lyme’s disease, grief and depression and the ups and downs of building a business on top of it all, Katie found ways to stay resilient. In this conversation with host Adam Markel, Katie shares advice on how she did it, including highlights from her book, At Least You Look Good. She also provides amazing insights on looking good and feeling good and her own redefinition of resilience. These few sentences hardly give justice to the wealth of learning and wisdom that is to be found in this episode, so dig in!
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Look Good, Feel Good: How To Achieve Your Inner Glow With Katie DePaola
I feel blessed to be sitting here and getting ready to interview an amazing guest. Each of us have had some technology glitches with our equipment in the last couple of days. It can be frustrating. The thing about it for me that I’m not totally good with is how vulnerable I feel to how technology is a part of my business in my life. I clearly remember when I didn’t need technology to do business. I was a lawyer for a lot of years. It didn’t require much technology at all, a typewriter. I had a computer for word processing, but it was so little of it. I’m aging myself here, but it pre-dated cell phones. At one point, there was a beeper and that was mostly because when my wife was getting ready to have babies. I needed to know when I was in court or something. If it was 911, I had a beeper to get home and get to the hospital. I do feel a little bit vulnerable and sometimes even violated, if I can use that word, when shit goes wrong, stops working, and it doesn’t make any sense. For at least some moment or two, I got to pivot. It’s a great reminder to me to relax, take some deep breaths, and it all works out anyway. That’s the good news.
I have a great guest. I’m excited to speak with her. You won’t get to see her, although in the show notes, there’ll be links to her website. You’ll be able to see pictures of her beautiful face and the energy that she brings is special. I’m going to read a little bit of her bio and then we’re going to dig in and have a great conversation that hopefully will meet all of you exactly where you are in this moment. I’m sure that there’ll be something that you are meant to hear and intended to hear. That seems to always be the case. Her name is Katie DePaola. She’s an entrepreneur, author and Founder of Inner Glow Circle, an accredited training and certification company for women, coaches, leaders and entrepreneurs.
Right after starting IGC, Katie lost her brother to an accidental overdose. Also, Lyme disease has taken its toll on her. She’s a survivor. Even after experiencing that, and I have a number of friends who’ve also dealt with that over the years, she managed to build her business from her bathtub, growing the company from a self-funded startup to a $1 million business. We’re going to dig into that and find out a little bit more about that story as well. Katie has turned her greatest challenges into her greatest opportunities and says her business is what saved her life, which is counterintuitive. A lot of people, especially entrepreneurs, feel as though their business is killing them. To know that this saved her life is cool. I’ll say this one other thing which is to share her advice. Her best advice for how to glow through what you go through is powerful. I want to dig in there.
Katie, welcome to the show. I’m so happy to have you with us.
Adam, thank you so much. I love the work that you do. I love what you’re all about and your brand. I’m happy to be here.
Thank you so much for being patient too. As we were talking about the unexpected is to be expected I suppose, but even though I wrote a book about pivoting, you would think I might deal with it better. Most of the time, I do but it can get frustrating and all that. You work with a lot of entrepreneurs and your bio is rich. Is there something that’s not written in that bio that you would love for people to know about you right out of the gate?
A bio can say a lot. That’s a description of what I’ve been through, but having people hear me talk about it is different and what sets me apart. I started my company and then exactly 100 days later, I got a call that my little brother had passed away. He was only twenty years old and it was from an accidental overdose. That turned my world upside down. I loved what you were saying at the beginning. I do tell people that my business saved my life because my business did save my life and I’ll get into that. Starting up a company is never easy and IGC is my third business. I had a little bit of experience but I didn’t have experience scaling at the level that I was looking to scale at.
Many little things happen along the way, the stress of starting a business and the ups and downs. Sometimes the downs were a little bit lower because the ups are so high and you’re like, “I’m the best,” then you’re like, “I suck.” It was crazy. I was telling you earlier I appreciate your introduction, but I want everyone to know that you were so gracious, graceful, and trying to get us going. Tech stuff does happen. I was telling Adam I was hosting someone else and there were all these tech issues happening. I’m many years to my business. Adam’s many years and had multiple careers. It’s not like we’re not pros at this. The woman that I was hosting, who is an author who had a book come out, she kept saying like, “Katie, someone needs to see us do it this way.”
We ended up bringing the technology and in a crazy backwards way, people were so grateful that we went live anyways and that we did the thing. So many people who are starting off on their entrepreneurial journey, who are pivoting and going in a different direction, starting something new inside of what they’re doing, opening up a different department or selling you offerings, it’s so easy to get down on yourself. It’s easy to get tired and let it take the wind out of your sails but the reality is that in every obstacle, there’s an opportunity. Even if the opportunity is like, “I’m meeting this new person or I’m working with this new person.”
There’s a frustrating thing happening and I’m seeing with how much grace they’re handling it. What can I do to bring that into my life? Your book is about this, Adam, because that’s what we do. We teach what we’re here to learn. My book that’s coming out is about the same thing. It’s about how to take all the hard things that happen and make them beautiful things, which requires a lot of work. We struggle with it too because we’re the ones who are so committed to teaching it and to learning it as well.
I would love to talk about, At Least You Look Good. That is the title of your book. Will you tell us a little bit about what’s the origin story there and why you felt compelled to put a book out because that’s no small feat as any author knows. It’s like giving birth. I’ve never given birth, but I’ve watched four children come into the world. I know a little bit about how excruciating that can be. As an author, that process can be quite painful and totally a joy. Give us the origin story of the book and how it is that it came about.It's easy to get tired and let it take the wind out of your sails but the reality is that in every obstacle, there's an opportunity. Click To Tweet
I’m one of those people who for many years felt like I had a book in me. To your point, one is enough. For now, we’ve got to start somewhere and it does. It forces you to face yourself more than any experience. It was looking in the mirror again and again, and digging deep and trying to understand the things that I had been through. I lost my brother. I had been diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease that had become neurological, meaning it had caused brain damage. I had gotten to a point where I lost feeling in an entire side of my body. I was bedridden and I was going through multiple rounds of intense treatment that were hard on my body.
I start Lyme treatment, building my company, dealing with what life is giving me, and then I get the call about my little brother. That turned my world upside down. When I lost my brother, it felt like there could be no worse feeling and I don’t know if I’m ever going to find a way out of this. I’m someone who wants life to have meaning and wants everything to be great and perfect. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression like so many of us. With all the things that were going on, finding out about my brother, it was completely devastating. I was already struggling in certain areas, get the business going and deal with my Lyme disease.
The title of the book is quite telling. Most women resonate with this, but I’m interested to hear what you think, Adam. The period that I was going through and all of this, people would say to me like, “You don’t look sick,” or, “You look really good,” or, “I can’t believe your brother died.” I still took care of myself and some days, not every day, and the days when I would leave the house, which was not that often when I was going through it, but I would still look good. In a way, it’s this deeper, feminist commentary on the fact that we, as women, are judged by our looks and for our looks. We were constantly judging ourselves and everyone around us like we judge the book by its cover. That’s not always a terrible thing, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
There’s this pinnacle point for me where a few years after Bo’s passing, and I had navigated my way out of the abusive relationship, I had been engaged and it ended in court orders. It was so crazy because I wasn’t myself when I was going through that. Sometimes when we’re in a bad spot, we can’t see the forest through the trees so then we start making other decisions. This was at least what happened for me. I started making other decisions that were out of alignment with who I was because I felt so broken. I so badly didn’t want to be alone that I got into a relationship and got engaged to someone that was not good for me. One day after, I’ve fought a lot of battles, worked to get my company off the ground, growing, and done a lot of my own mental health recovery and physical recovery. I was Lyme free at this time because I finally found a doctor who could cure me.
I sat down, started seriously writing the book, and getting clear on what I was doing with the book. I had been dabbling on writing for a long time as we do. I sit down at my psychiatrist’s office who I was seeing at that time. I still wasn’t feeling great and I’m sure it was a mix of all kinds of things. She had been trying a couple of different medicines and I’m very sensitive to medication. She said, “How are you feeling?” I said, “I’m feeling like shit.” She looks at me and I’m wearing these tight, shiny, red leggings and a crop top. I’m dressed like I’m about to go do a performance or something. She looks at me and she’s like, “Shit.” Her eyes widen, she’s smiling and she’s like, “You look so good.”
That’s the doctor going?
This is my psychiatrist. I was pissed at her and I wanted to punch her but I didn’t. I refrained and I was laughing. I was like, “I don’t feel good at all but do you know what the title of my book is?” I told her and she started laughing. It’s funny because a lot of times, I got a lot of inspiration from people who “didn’t believe me” that I was sick and losing my brother impacted me so much. Why? I still found some strength within me to smile when I did leave the house, get on Facebook Live, do webinars, or put myself out there for my business. I was still hiding a lot. My version of being seen that was happening in 2015, 2016, 2017 was not what it is now. Even now, I’m more and more because I’m healthy and what I want, but when I was struggling, people had a lot to say. I’m grateful for that because it gave me so much perspective and I realized people see what they see. It talks about that a lot, how focusing on my looks was a way to control. It was the only thing I could control at certain times.
We do a lot of work with speakers and people that do TEDx Talks and things like that. I’m trained to be asking myself and thinking about the throughline of things. A book is very much the same way. There’s usually a central throughline. What would you say is the throughline of that book? Because it’s so rich in what you’ve already shared and I’m thinking to myself, “There could be a few different throughlines I’m coming up with.” I got the author here so I don’t have to guess about it.
The biggest one is what it looks like, to create a life that looks good but feels even better. It talks a lot about my experience learning how to feel. I grew up in a family that was very concerned about how things looked and I am grateful for that because I see it come through when I’m finalizing our branding or finishing touches on things. I’m crazy about how things look and I’m not mad at my parents for teaching me that. I got to the point of feeling grateful for that.
What’s the relationship between the looking good and the not feeling good or feeling good but not looking good because it’s an interesting relationship between those things? I’m not going to make any guess about your age, but I’ll say it’s a long time ago that Billy Crystal was a member of Saturday Night Live. Do you remember that or have seen any videos from that time? He used to do this bit where he holds up a soda can like a Coke can and say, “My little darling, you look so good.” He would come up with this line and his line was to look good, is to feel good. He was like this guy, Fernando, who is always espousing how looking good was feeling good.
I talk about this and I’m thinking to myself, “For a lot of folks, it is putting on that face. It is being able to go out to the world, no matter what’s happening inside and still being able to show up with that.” I don’t want to call it a veneer or a facade because there’s an element of what he was getting at with that joke. When we go to the gym, even when we feel like shit when we are wanting our bodies in the way we look to reflect how we either want to feel or how we may even be feeling, but there’s this congruence between those things. Sometimes to get dressed up and go out in the world even when you feel like crying or staying home has the impact of helping you to feel better. I don’t know if that’s part of the book or what the relationship is, but I’m curious, how does the inner and outer interplay in that writing for you?
Ultimately, we want to look the way that we feel on the inside. We want to feel the way that we look, and we want those things to align. We’ve all had experiences where we see this hot person and they’re such an asshole. That person is not feeling themselves in that authentic way even though they look good or we’ve had experiences where someone is hiding who they are and they’re hiding behind how they look, but they’re so kind and sweet. We want the world to see us and we want to be seen. That’s why I say my business saved my life because my business, having started IGC before all this shit hit the fan, meant that I had to show up. I could have quit.
I could have thrown in the towel, sold the business, or brought in my partner to take over, but I had ever a reason to operate like a victim. For a long time, I did because I did feel very victimized to all this stuff. I didn’t choose to have my brother passed away. I didn’t choose to get bitten by a tick. This whole rhetoric in our industry about you create your life, you create your reality, manifestation, you attract what you are and thought become things. Some of that is true, but it’s also true that we live in a world that has a lot of toxicity and turmoil. I don’t think that we can say that we’re responsible for creating all of that.
We’re responsible for what we do with it, but it takes time to get there. That’s largely not what we’re being taught by the mainstream world. For me, the main idea here is that you have to keep showing up because I had started my business before all of this stuff happened. I created unknowingly accountability for myself in a way that saved me. I had to show up. I wasn’t showing up the way I show up now, but I was showing up as much as I could at the time. Eventually, I got diagnosed with anxiety, depression, PTSD, Lyme and all these things. I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of my Lyme at first, but I can figure out how to buy makeup that made me feel better, wear an outfit that made me feel good, or get lash extensions.
I could figure out how to change my hair. Eighty percent of the time, I feel like how I’m feeling on the inside matches the outside and vice versa. When I go out into the world, people get me. They get my vibe, energy, and who I am. There’s no need to prove because I know who I am and I look like myself but there were many years where I didn’t look like myself or feel like myself. I was trying to do all of these things to try to piece it together to become me. My entire journey of learning how to look good and feel good has been about trying to become myself, to find myself in the midst of all this pain.
What would you ever wish for anybody, friend or foe, in the interest of humanity? Wouldn’t you wish for people to be comfortable in their own skin of everything? What’s the ripple effect of that that you have that alignment toward you use this congruence, this feeling that there isn’t a disconnect between what’s happening on the inside? What facial expression do you have or the face that you’re going out into the world with? I don’t mean the face with the makeup, without the makeup, or whether you define yourself as pretty or other people define you as good looking or not good looking, skinny or not, or any of that stuff.
Are you bringing a face of joy, gratitude, confidence, or compassion for other people? There’s no question. It shows all the time in so many ways. In listening to you, one of the words that comes up for me is we’re endlessly fascinated with people and seemingly everybody has their own definition of this one word. I’m going to ask you about resilience. What does that word mean to you? If there’s a recipe for resilience, things that have helped you to become more, or create more resilience in your life, I’d love to get your thoughts on that.
I always say that I’m rebranding resilience and the reason why is because to me, resilience isn’t just about standing back up. Resilience is about making something out of whatever you’ve gone through. Resilience is about self-responsibility. I have a story here that illustrates this and can be inspiring to people. Two years after losing my brother, going through multiple rounds of treatment with different doctors for Lyme disease, and having 30 doctors tell me that it would never go away, that I’ll always have Lyme, that we could get it under control but not get rid of it, I’m sitting in my car in my parents’ driveway and I had decided to take two months off of work because I was drowning. I had a breakdown one day and felt the weight of the world was on my shoulders. It made my dad take me to the emergency room.
I was living on my own. I was in my late twenties at that time, but I couldn’t function. I felt like a child again. It was so crazy. Things had gotten bad. I knew that if there was any part of me that was okay with taking time off work, there was a reason to worry. Things were bad. I am sitting in my parents’ driveway, I gotten myself onto a nine-month waitlist to see the one doctor that I had heard of who I knew could cure Lyme disease. This was after searching and searching. I’m sitting in my car and I’m thinking like, “I don’t have nine months.” This is so vulnerable to admit when I talk about vulnerability, but I was at the point where every night, I was praying, “God, if I’m not meant to be here anymore, please take me in my sleep.”
I would never do anything. I don’t want to hurt my family. They’ve been through so much pain but I can’t imagine that this is how I’m meant to live like, “Please, take me if that’s what’s meant to be.” I couldn’t understand. I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t understand why I was going through all of this. In the car, I have this breakthrough moment and that changes everything. I’m having words with God, my higher self, or talking to the universe. I knew from the work that I do that I’ve done as a coach and around mindset, if this was still in my experience, if I was still struggling and suffering at this level, there was some part of me that was keeping this experience of pain in my life so I got honest.
I asked myself out loud in the car, in my parents’ driveway, “What part of me is accepting this level of pain, grief and sadness year-after-year?” What I heard back changed everything. It wasn’t like this audible thing that happens in the movies, but I felt that I heard God speak back to me. What I heard was, “You haven’t decided.” In the middle of my tears, snot, and everything but still a smart ass. I’m like, “Haven’t decided what?” Ignoring the fact that I heard God talked to me, but all of a sudden, it’s like a movie. I see my life flash before my eyes and this looks the way that they describe it in movies. I see myself speaking, traveling, having kids, being a mom, being in a great partnership, being on TV, teaching, and doing all these things that I’ve seen in my vision that I’ve seen myself doing since I was a kid.
I knew that a lot of that wasn’t possible at the level that I desired it if I wasn’t mentally, physically, and emotionally well. I had heard this like, “You haven’t decided.” I was like, “I haven’t decided.” There’s this part of me that’s been tearing between in and out of this life. It was earth-shattering to me so I said out loud, “I’m not done with this life. I’m not finished. In fact, I’m getting started. I’m going to keep building my company. I’m going to finish writing my book. I’m going to have a beautiful marriage and family.” My reality didn’t look like that. Looking back, it was because I hadn’t fully chosen it.
There was this part of me that had become very comfortable being sick because it gave me an excuse to hide. I’m not blaming myself for being sick. Certainly, I did not put a tick on myself and make sure I got bit. Let’s be clear about that. I’m not blaming myself or anyone else for the things that we go through. There was this part of me that I now feel, and this has been very healing for me to accept and take responsibility for when we start this conversation about resilience. I had gotten comfortable being sick and hiding. I decided that just because my brother died and Bo wasn’t here, didn’t mean that I had to. Once I decided, the miracle started to pour and that nine-month waitlist became an eight-week waitlist.Create a life that looks good but feels even better. Click To Tweet
I got a call and I got in. I was lying free before my 30th birthday, I’m now in a phenomenal relationship that’s so supportive. We’ve grown our business to $1 million business, and we’ve sold millions of dollars in coaching. It’s quite incredible. People see the highlight reel sometimes and they see the end result. To me, that’s what resilience is. It’s about not getting back up but being like, “I’m going to make something of this.” If I was going to go through all of then it had to be for a reason and I’m going to create the reason.
That makes so much sense to me. The Rocky model, which I think about how many people define resiliency. They see the old Rocky movie, 1976 is the first Rocky and now there’s eight or whatever, eighteen movies or something. Sylvester Stallone gets knocked down, gets back up, gets knocked down, gets back up. I’ve often asked people and I haven’t yet done the research so this is one more time I’m going to say it that I want to count how many times this guy gets knocked down, gets his ass handed to him and he gets back up. That’s how a lot of people think about resilience is to keep taking the punches and that’s the resilient ones.
Some people are born resilient. The rest of us is not in the cards and that’s BS. I’m going to call BS on it because the research is clear. That’s not the case. In my personal experience, much the same as yours, but different scenarios, situations, nights or days of wondering whether I could take another hit, so to speak. I’ve learned it’s not about getting back up. It’s what you said. It’s about what you make of it. We talk about recovery and the recharge because that’s what creates resilience and that’s how people can learn resilience. It’s a learned skill and it is a skill. It’s a tool. It’s the most important thing for anybody. It’s the one thing if I was going to, again, wave the magic wand for our kids and for anybody’s children, it would be that they learn that tool or that skill and be able to be proficient at recovery and recharge because it’s in the recharge that we regain our energy to explore.
We regain our energy to be able to find the meaning of things and then do something with it, as you said. It’s brilliant the way you reframe that. It’s how we make something out of it that defines whether we’ve been resilient. I can’t think of anything more fitting for all of our audience than to start practicing that right away and practice is key. I know this is a tough question, but rituals are important to me and I know to a lot of our community members too. Is there one particular ritual that you’ve got that helps you to create that resilience on a daily or even a regular basis?
My ritual is definitely journaling. I’ve gotten a lot better at this stuff but I still struggle with it sometimes. Often, I have to shift my mindset daily. I use journaling not to vent and share what’s present for me, but to shift my mindset and to be asked to see things differently.
Writing doesn’t have to be the pressure that some people feel from writing because journaling is a very powerful tool. What I read was a great book I finished called Atomic Habits. One of the things that pointed out in that book is that you can journal for where you say, “Here’s my whole goal in journaling. I’m going to write until I’m done writing, until I decide I’m finished.” It doesn’t matter whether that’s in the middle of a sentence, you got the whole thought out. You think you’ve done a good job or not, no judgment around it and if that’s one sentence is great. If it turns out that you have the time and the inspiration to write for an hour, fine, that’s perfect as well but what a great ritual.
In closing, we’ll say this that I need reminders. You’ve said that as well that often we’re teaching the things that we most are in the process of learning. One of the great reminders every day is that upon waking, and we all know that from so many other people’s experiences and the ones that we know intimately ourselves that it’s not a guarantee. It’s not a thing when we go to bed tonight that we get to wake up tomorrow. That’s not something we can take for granted. It’s not promised. The waking itself is a ritual. Tomorrow morning, when we get that we’re restored to that blessing, and we can take a moment, take a deep breath and realize how much there is for us to appreciate the moment.
I don’t mean everything is perfect or you should convince yourself that life is better than it is in the moment because it could be that you’re struggling in some way. We all have struggles and there’s no comparing them because pain is pain. Your pain, my pain, they may be very different but they feel the same. It is certainly not to diminish that the reality of our lives and yet, in the midst of any, including the loss of somebody that you love like your brother, there were still things to appreciate like your parents, the people that were there for you, and for your own life. Tomorrow, we get to be reminded, I’m going to get reminded even right now that waking up is a thing to be grateful for.
I’ve got something to appreciate in that moment. I couple that ritual with another one, which is to declare, to say something out loud that I want to believe and I want to feel. After ten years, I no longer am on the side of faking it and wanting to wear something that doesn’t necessarily fit at the moment, but I want it to fit over time. I started saying these words a long time ago when I would wake up in the morning and feel a lot of anxiety about the day and not feel good about what I was doing with my life. Frankly, even feeling like I was a fraud because I was mostly doing what I was doing for the money and not for any higher purpose.
I started to say these words, “I love my life.” I didn’t make those words up. I had seen them in a movie called Jerry Maguire. I remember Jerry’s mentor in that movie. He talks about, “I love my wife. I love my life.” I thought to myself, “If I could only do that one thing to come over to the side of being that love Is life regardless of what the circumstances are, that would be a good place to be.” Ten years later, I start the day with those same words and I’m not faking it anymore. I don’t have any question about that. Here’s my call out. This is the call to action here that everybody wakes up tomorrow. We’re going to start with you, Katie, and get your agreement to that. Are you going to wake up tomorrow?
I hope so, yes.
More conscious, more awake, more aware. Awake is so many things and physically, when that happens, we know that’s a blessing as well. The words I’m going to say are, “I love my life,” but they might be different for you. What are the words, Katie, that you got to say when you wake up tomorrow? Give us an example of something.
I usually say, “I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful.”
That’s way cool. I met a woman who I have tremendous respect for. She wakes up, and she’s in her 70s and she says, “I wonder what miracles are coming.” I thought that’s absolutely awesome. I have started saying that too. Let’s all think about what miracles are possible. When we do get to wake up tomorrow, we can feel appreciation, gratitude in that moment, and declare something out loud as we put our feet on the floor. I feel great appreciation for you, Katie DePaola. Thank you for the work you’re doing and all the lives that you are changing. Inner Glow Circle is a wicked cool company. I love you as the founder and creator of a lot of transformation. I don’t believe there are any coincidences in any of this, in hearing Katie talk or listening to these things. It’s so perfectly intended. Thank you, Katie, for being on the show. Thank you, everybody. Feel free to leave us messages as well. We love to get feedback. If you haven’t subscribed, please do that as well. You can go to AdamMarkel.com/Podcasts to leave a comment. We love all the feedback and all the good thoughts. Everybody, ciao for now. We’ll see you soon again.
About Katie DePaola
Inner Glow Circle offers a certified Coach Training program and online courses for all women. We are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). We know the future belongs to the female entrepreneur.